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Prix 1987 - 2007

ORF Oberösterreich

Descartes oder die Einsamkeit der interaktiven Skulptur
Beate Garmer

Interactive art necessarily concentrates a significant portion of its attention to animating observable behaviors on the part of the persons intended to interact with it, so that these mutate from observing to observed persons.

The artist becomes the director of the experiment, developing ideas of those who could be hypothetically addressed and testing these ideas on live objects, always in danger of mere self-confirmation. In the present work the interactive element undergoes a reduction to the possible, albeit inadvisable examination of the question of whether an electrical current is live or not.

This results in the paradox of an interactive sculpture that bitingly refuses direct contact and thus challenges the traditional, contemplative attitude of observing art.

In reference to Descartes, whose “I think, therefore I am” as a reaction to universal doubt quasi digitises reality , the sign “De omnibus dubitandum est” (“Everything must be doubted”) establishes a connection between the digital core idea and the idea-historical background of the development and significance of self-reflexive systems.

In the tragedy, the question of yes or no, 1 or 2, in other words the question of the active subject, still had existential meaning. In the course of the development of digital systems, located through replication and acceleration outside the human capability of imagining and thus apparently leveled out to pure arbitrariness, the question is now imbued with a new, concretely intelligible explosive power.

The essence of self-reflexive systems is characterized by a certain type of energy, which electrical current concretely and metaphorically represents here.

“... As an object of consciousness the thing loses its substantiality (in Cartesian self-reflection), and the tree that is seen no longer differs in any way from one that is only remembered or even freely invented (to name the specter of doubting the reality of the outside world); precisely in this way, however, it becomes an integral component of the consciousness that only exists as process, as a stream of consciousness, and in which everything of the substantial object is therefore automatically pulverized.

What could have better prepared the modern way of thinking for the disintegration of material into energy, of concreteness into a whirl of atomic processes, than this disintegration of objectively given reality into the subjective data of consciousness, the eternally moved and moving particles of a stream of consciousness?”
Hanna Arendt